Lucio’s attorneys say her capital murder conviction was based on an unreliable and coerced confession that was the result of relentless questioning and her long history of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. They say Lucio wasn’t allowed to present evidence questioning the validity of her confession.
Her lawyers also contend that unscientific and false evidence misled jurors into believing Mariah’s injuries only could have been caused by physical abuse and not by medical complications from a severe fall.
“I knew that what I was accused of doing was not true. My children have always been my world and although my choices in life were not good I would have never hurt any of my children in such a way,” Lucio wrote in a letter to Texas lawmakers.
Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz, whose office prosecuted the case, has said he disagrees with Lucio’s lawyers’ claims that new evidence would exonerate her. Prosecutors say Lucio had a history of drug abuse and at times had lost custody of some of her 14 children.
During a sometimes contentious Texas House committee hearing on Lucio’s case this month, Saenz initially pushed back on requests to use his power to stop the execution, before later saying he would intervene if the courts didn’t act.
“I don’t disagree with all the scrutiny this case is getting. I welcome that,” Saenz said.
Armando Villalobos was the county’s district attorney when Lucio was convicted in 2008, and Lucio’s lawyers allege that he pushed for a conviction to help his reelection bid. In 2014, Villalobos was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison for a bribery scheme related to offering favorable prosecutorial decisions.
About the photo: Rachelle Zoca, of Chicago, holds a sign during a vigil for Melissa Lucio at the Basilica Of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle National Shrine, Friday, April 22, 2022, in San Juan, Texas.
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